Budget

Getting Rid Of The Old Blue Chair – A Look Back At How I Used To Manage My Finances

Nine years ago, I bought a blue chair-and-a-half.  Yesterday, I hauled it away.

As I was driving down the road, returning from the ‘dump-trash’ (that’s what my daughter calls the local collection facility) – I started thinking about the old blue chair.  My wife and I purchased it on a whim.  We lived in a small, two bedroom apartment, and we were expecting our first child.  We were, as we always were back then, broke.  But, we had good credit.

We went to a local furniture store and we scanned their selection of chairs.  Quickly, we picked out out the blue chair-and-a-half, because it matched our other furniture.  We used the furniture store’s in-house financing – and we promised ourselves that we would ‘pay the whole thing off, next month’.

When the next month rolled around, we didn’t ‘pay the whole thing off’.  In fact, we took eleven months to pay for the blue chair.  That’s right.  It took us nearly a year to pay for a chair.

I was recently digging through some old paperwork, and I stumbled across the financing documents for the blue chair.  I was astonished to see just how much we paid for the chair – and that the interest rate had been 21.99%!  I also noticed that they charged me a delivery fee – and yet I distinctly remember using my own truck to bring the chair home.

As you can see, back in those days, I wasn’t very money savvy.  In fact, I was foolish.  When I wanted something, I went out and got it, regardless of its price.

Now, we are thinking about getting a new chair, to replace the old blue one.  For the time being, we have simply moved an old recliner from one spot in the den to another, and we are using it to fill the space where the old blue chair used to sit.  Eventually, we’ll buy a new chair.  But, we’ll shop around first – comparing prices and features.  We’ll pay cash and the purchase will be included in our budget.  And, we’ll do business with a local furniture store with whom we have an established, first-name relationship.

In other words, we’ll make an informed decision based on rational thought, instead of an impulse purchase based on irrational want.

It isn’t easy, thinking about the way things used to be.  But, it is good to know how much we’ve changed.  It’s amazing how much better life is, when you have a plan and you stick to it.

How have your money management skills changed, over the years?  Do you still impulse shop?  Are you living on a budget?  Leave a comment and let us know how you are doing.

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14 thoughts on “Getting Rid Of The Old Blue Chair – A Look Back At How I Used To Manage My Finances

  1. Thanks for your blog – you have some great ideas! My husband and I started a budget even before we were married, but we were both paid salaries at that time.

    I now stay at home with our daughter (8 months) and it hasn’t been easy. We have learned (quickly) how to be really frugal. It is such a fun challenge to see how little we can spend on my husband’s pay check and my freelance writing!

  2. I always laugh at comments like these:

    “And, we’ll do business with a local furniture store with whom we have an established, first-name relationship.”

    How can you establish a great relationship with a furniture store if you are not buying a lot of furniture over the last few years?

    How are they going to know you on a first-name basis if you buy couches and chairs once every 8 years?

  3. After reading your latest post, I looked around the room and took a mental inventory of all the “impulse” purchases that led me to the debt situation I got myself into. Now that I’ve gotten wiser about my money, I haven’t made any more large impulse purchases that disrupt my monthly budget.

    I’ll be glad to be out of this debt soon enough and be paying myself instead of paying this “stupid tax” every month

  4. It’s funny how we can look back at past money decisions with a clear perspective and wonder, what was I thinking?! As for me, I can’t believe I used to put groceries on the credit card while assuring myself I’d pay the balance off as soon as we got paid. I paid for those groceries for months and months.

  5. My money management skills have changed greatly over the past few years. My impulse purchases happen alot less than they used to. I do follow a budget and it works great for me.

  6. Oh my gosh, I am light-years ahead of where I used to be! Only three years ago I ate out for every meal and bought at least $200 worth of shoes every month. Usually every couple of months I’d drop a grand here and there for clothes and jewelry. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. Honestly. And I didn’t buy with cash, of course, I bought with credit cards at 20% interest rates. Because I was 19 and didn’t use my brain :/

    Now I live on 40-50% of what I use the rest to pay off debt – later I will bank the rest. I rarely buy anything, and when I do it’s something I’ve saved for and know I will use for a long time. I’m not even being strict with myself! I just have come to this calm in me about owning and buying that I didn’t know before.

    Thank you for sharing your story! I am so so so close to being out of debt! (http://www.antishay.com/?p=127) Now that I’m nearly there, it’s pretty fun to look back at how stupid I was. While in the midst of intense debt-payoff, it wasn’t fun at all to remember what I had done to get into debt. As I become further and further removed, however, I am amused by how mindless I used to be. Thanks for prompting me to remember. It’s always good to remember – if for no other reason, than to keep me from going down that path again!

  7. @Adam – The folks who run the local furniture store go to our church and have been our friends for more than a decade.

  8. Great Blog . I am just learning to be debt free and freaking out about how much money I have wasted over the years on interest alone , I actually use nickname slavenomore because I refuse to be a slave to debt anylonger

  9. Most of the things we recently sold in our garage sale had been impulse buys. (http://takingcontrolofmoney.blogspot.com/2008/04/stuff.html) Seeing all the things that we spend $20-$40 on at “big box” stores sitting in a row marked $5 or less, we realized that we have a problem. It’s completely changed the way we spend money. This week we went out to lunch and the waitress tried to charge me for a drink even though I brought my own! Check those receipts! (http://takingcontrolofmoney.blogspot.com/2008/04/check-those-receipts.html)

  10. It is painful to think about the mistakes we’ve made in the past, but if we truly learned from those mistakes (as it sounds like you have) then they are one of the reasons for our current success.

  11. I think it comes from your parents, my dad never let me get in debt (he made me work instead at his petrol station) – I remember when birthdays came around he would take my money presents off me (and put them into a savings account for me that i did not have access to!) before I had a chance to spend them! He is still taking money off my brother so he dosnt fritter it away and he is 26.

  12. If you want a REALLY good deal on a perfect chair, try Craigslist. It took weeks of checking, but six months and only $800.00 later I had a couch, a chair and half, an ottoman and a Pottery Barn coffee table. My living room is FINALLY furnished the way I like it instead of being filled with cast-offs from family. I feel all grown up 😀

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